Brussels:The European Union presented the UK with a draft divorce deal that risks putting up a border between Northern Ireland and the United Kingdom, a condition Theresa May said no British prime minister could ever accept. The pound fell.
Brexit talks once again look to be stuck around the intractable issue of the Irish border—an obstacle that was papered over in December with a temporary fix but now has the potential to derail the whole process.
The EU presented a draft exit treaty that set out in great detail the so-called fallback option to avoid a hard border on the island of Ireland after Brexit. If a future trade deal isn’t comprehensive enough to avoid a hard border on Ireland then Northern Ireland will remain aligned with the Republic of Ireland. That would mean a border between the province and mainland Britain.
The EU doesn’t expect a trade deal to be completed by the time the UK leaves the bloc next year. So when the UK leaves, and is seeking to clinch a trade deal with the EU, it will be negotiating in the knowledge that failure to get a good deal will mean Northern Ireland is cut off.
“No UK prime minister could ever agree to it," May said in parliament, adding that she plans to make that “crystal clear" to the EU.
It’s also unacceptable to the Northern Irish lawmakers who prop up Theresa May’s government, and to plenty of Britons of all parties.
According to the legal proposal, Northern Ireland will form a “ common regulatory area " with the Republic of Ireland and will have to follow the EU’s rules and rates on customs, sales tax, state aid, excise duties and even sanitary and phytosanitary rules. UK Officials working at the Nortern Irish customs will have to follow EU rules.
The bloc resisted British efforts to insert an explicit commitment that Northern Ireland will be treated the same as the rest of the UK into the Brexit treaty. May made that promise in December to placate the Northern Irish lawmakers, and its exclusion adds to their ire. Bloomberg.